The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) reimburses publicly operated ferries, including when they cease operations due to severe weather or unforeseen events. Reimbursement procedures are not codified in law and are largely based on historical practice. To determine how the Cabinet should handle reimbursement, funding, oversight of ferry services moving forward, the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) reviewed practices adopted by 10 other states and conducted a detailed analysis of Kentucky’s current approach. Of the states KTC examined, only Tennessee reimburses ferry operations for closures (at 50 percent of the normal hourly rate for a period up to 48 hours). Half of the states KTC examined make state funding available for ferry operations, others either devolve oversight to the local level or provide no funding assistance. In Kentucky, operating standards for ferry services are not consistent and no uniform method has been devised to calculate reimbursement rates. In light of these findings, KYTC should create detailed auditing guidelines to improve the consistency of ferry service financial statements; pursue funding sources it has not previously taken advantage of, and generate long-term forecasts of the state’s ferry operations. Lastly, the Cabinet should ask the General Assembly to revisit and modify several statutes pertaining to ferries which contain outdated language that has little relevance to the modern transportation system.

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